SEATTLE – The Seahawks left for Washington D.C. on Friday afternoon, their route to the airport lined by fans.
Estimated time of arrival: 11 p.m. Eastern, giving the Seahawks a full day head start on the team’s last road playoff victory.
That was all the way back on Dec. 31, 1983, when a flight delay stalled the Seahawks’ trip to Miami to the point the team didn’t arrive at its hotel until after midnight. Half a day later, the Seahawks took the field as a road-weary underdog and upset the Dolphins, scoring 10 points in a 22-second span in the fourth quarter for a 27-20 victory in the franchise’s first road playoff game.
Twenty-nine years later, it remains the only time the Seahawks have won on the road in the postseason.
“It’s funny, when you said those words, it made a chill go down my spine,” said Dr. Dan Doornink, a Seahawks running back who’s now an internist in Yakima. “I can’t believe there hasn’t been one since.”
Not one. Just eight consecutive road losses, a streak that spans five Seahawks coaches and two uniform changes and is one loss from matching Detroit’s NFL record.
This streak began so long ago that coach Pete Carroll was puzzled at how it could be pertinent.
“Wasn’t that when Ronald Reagan was president?” Carroll said Friday.
Why yes, in fact, it was. His vice president and his vice president’s son have both served in that office since.
In fact, 44 of the 53 players on Seattle’s roster weren’t alive when the Seahawks last won on the road in the playoffs.
“None of these guys even have a clue,” Carroll said. “They don’t know who Ronald Reagan is, that should shed some light on how much that factors in.”
One thing is for sure: Seattle will arrive earlier for this road playoff game than it did back in 1983. The team’s plane simply would not take off then. Not without a specific alert sensor needed to be replaced, and years later, coach Chuck Knox couldn’t be sure Dolphins coach Don Shula didn’t have a little something to do with it.
So the Seahawks sat at the airport and waited. And waited. And finally got hotel rooms in Seattle, using a ballroom for a walk-through. The team didn’t arrive at its hotel in Miami until about 3 a.m., which gave the Seahawks all of about nine hours until kickoff.
“As Chuck would say, we played the hand we were dealt,” said Jacob Green, the Seahawks defensive end who happens to be lineman Red Bryant’s father-in-law.
The Dolphins were coming off a Super Bowl appearance, had gone 12-4 during the season and allowed a league-low 15.6 points that season. They were favored over Seattle by more than a touchdown.
“Nobody gave us a cut dog’s chance of winning as Coach Knox would say,” running back Curt Warner said this week.
The Dolphins led 13-7, but what happened in that second half remains one of the most exciting comebacks in Seahawks history. Seattle scored 10 points in the final two minutes of the game, recovering fumbles on back-to-back kickoffs.
“Hindsight is always 20-20,” Warner said. “But when you get to that playoff mind-set, it changes not only on the field, but it also changes from a home-field advantage perspective.
“Everything intensifies. Everything gets louder and gets crazier. The intensity level is at a higher level. It makes it a little tougher to go on the road and win.”
The Seahawks lost on the road to the Los Angeles Raiders the next week in the AFC Championship Game and haven’t won a postseason game on the road since.
“I’m assuming at some point they’re going to win,” Warner said.
Bradley to interview
The Philadelphia Eagles will interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley for their head-coaching vacancy.
Bradley is in his fourth season in Seattle.